WASHINGTON—The U.S. tire industry is either besieged by underpriced passenger and light truck tire imports from China, or doing better than ever.
Those were the contradictory scenarios presented by advocates and opponents of antidumping and countervailing duties against Chinese tires during a hearing June 9 before the International Trade Commission.
The ITC, which has already made a preliminary finding of material injury against the U.S. tire industry caused by Chinese imports, held the hearing as a final public information-gathering event before its final ruling in July.
The Commerce Department's International Trade Administration, which has made preliminary determinations setting antidumping and countervailing duties against Chinese passenger and light truck tire makers, is scheduled to make its final determination on both duties June 12. A final affirmative ITC ruling of material injury would make the duties law for the next five years.
As set forth by the United Steelworkers union and its legal counsel, the domestic tire industry and its workers benefited greatly from three years of tariffs the federal government placed on Chinese tire imports under Section 421 of the Trade Act, only to see those gains crumble once the tariffs ended in September 2012.
Despite a growing tire market in 2012-14, the U.S. tire industry saw widespread declines in those years, according to Terence P. Stewart of the Washington law firm of Stewart & Stewart.
“The U.S. industry should have been able to participate in this growth,” Stewart said. Instead, the U.S. industry lost nearly 28.5 million tires sold, $968 million in operating income and $265 million in wages between 2011-14 because of Chinese imports.
In 2014 alone, 58 percent of Chinese tire shipments were exported, driven entirely by an increase in exports to the U.S., according to Stewart. China, he said, had tires ready to be shipped at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 27, 2012, the minute the Section 421 tariffs ended.